Beginning Advent Conspiracy…

The following is what I wrote for the Bethany Christian Church (DOC) newsletter regarding our upcoming Advent Conspiracy program.


We have survived the Thanksgiving holiday and the mad dash of Black Friday and Cyber Monday; we are now on the precipice of Advent.  Advent is a time of waiting and hoping for the coming of the Christ child into the world.  We prepare for this season in a myriad of ways.  We decorate our houses, we sing songs and we gather with family once more.

Here at Bethany Christian Church we are going to enter into the story of Advent in a different way.  For the next four Sundays during Church School we will be journeying together through the program called Advent Conspiracy

Advent Conspiracy (or AC) is based on four primary tenets: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All.  The focus of Advent Conspiracy is centered around the notion on how Christmas can change the world.  The very first Christmas 2000+ years ago was radical and counter-cultural   The idea of a God (of any religion) coming to earth to dwell and live and serve and teach was something that never entered into people’s minds.  However, because of this indwelling of God, we now put ourselves on trajectory to be in communion with God for all times.

So why not start at the beginning?  The beginning of the story of God on earth in encapsulated in the story of Jesus’ birth.  While is it only accounted in two gospels (Matthew and Luke), within the stories we see the movement of God and the power of the incarnation.

Advent Conspiracy allows us to think about how we celebrate Christmas in a new and exciting way.  This first week’s tenet is Worship Fully.  We are called this Advent to worship God as fully as we can as an expression of our faith in Jesus Christ.  The authors of Advent Conspiracy summed it up well then they wrote:

“The time of year when worshiping Jesus should be the easiest is often the hardest.  The invitation to  join the Advent Conspiracy is a call to remain in the gospel of Jesus and worship him—no matter how strongly the cultural demands of Christ pull at us.  The transformation initiated by Jesus I no different today than it was the day he was born—the source of joy, peace, and hope hasn’t changed.” (Rick McKinley, Chris Seay, and Greg Holder, Advent Conspiracy: Can Christmas Still Change the World? (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2009), page 34.)

Join us this Sunday for the Advent Conspiracy.

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan M. Dolive

Thanksgiving Prayer

As you pause to give thanks for all that you have, for friends and family, may this be your prayer.

In Christ and Happy Thanksgiving.

Rev. Evan


O God we give you thanks for all that you have done for us;
that you have created us, and have given us the gift of life
and set us to live in this fair earth;
that you have given us work to do and the strength to do it;
that you have kept us all our days,
and have brought us in safety to this present hour.

We give you thanks for all that others have done for us;
for those who taught us when we were children;
for those who in the days of youth gave us the guidance which kept us from going astray;
for those who to this day love us and surround us with their care;
for those who pray for us, and who bear us to the throne of grace.

We give thanks for the gift of your Holy Spirit:
for your Spirit reminds us of the words of Jesus, when we are in danger of forgetting them;
for your Spirit to lead us into new knowledge and new truth;
for your Spirit to tell us what we must do and what we must say;
for your Spirit to inspire us wit strength and courage for life and for living.

We give you thanks for all that your church has done for us:
for all the teaching we have received with in the church;
for strength and guidance each week for life’s way;
for the friendship and the fellowship which we here enjoy;
for the sacraments of your grace and the prayers of your people.

We give you thanks for all that you have done for us in Jesus Christ.
that in him you have shown us the length and breadth and depth and height of your great love for us;
that in him you have opened to us a new and living way into your presence;
that in him you have given forgiveness of sins and peace with you.

We give you thanks for everything which has given us strength for earth and hope for Heaven.

Accept this our sacrifice of praise for your love’s sake.

Amen

(adapted from Chalice Worship— Colbert S. Cartwright and O. I. Cricket Harrison, eds., Chalice Worship (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1999), 184-85.)

Russell Brand Interviews Members of Westboro Baptist Church

Russell Brand has a show on FX (not sure why but I thank him for this).  On a recent episode he interviewed two members of Westboro Baptist Church.  This is the first time I have seen an interview of members on national TV in which they articulate their stance on love and homosexuality.  While I complete disagree with them I applaud Brand for having them on.

Of course a 10 minute segment is too short to have a meaningful conversation about this issue, but maybe it will get the ball rolling.

Below is the video of the interview.
(Content Warning: There is some language and name calling, you have been warned.  Somewhat SFW)

 

Milestone: 10000 Visits!

On the heals of my Twitter milestone (click here), I have reached another one… the blog has received 10,000 visits since its start in February 2012!

10000 visits has encompassed 107 posts and people reading from 60 different countries!

 

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!  Please keeep sharing, liking, commenting and posting!

 

HERE’S TO THE NEXT 10000!

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Join The Conspiracy!

Think about Christmas differently this year! Turn your Christmas upside down!

When Intolerance/Difference of Theological Belief Leads To Unemployment

For starters, this post is not about me. I am not losing my job, but it is about a fellow minister who is currently in this unfortunate boat.

A minister colleague of mine posted on Facebook that his church had made the decision that they were going to withdraw from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination. On top of that, the governing body of the church had the right to terminate the minister, no congregational vote or anything.

The beginning of all of this started when the Kentucky Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at their last assembly voted to remove the restriction that stated that open homosexuals could not be ordained in the Region.  The measure passed by a wide margin and even church in the region had an opportunity to cast a vote and speak on the issue.   For my colleague’s church this was not enough.  They disagreed with the measure and thus have taken action.

The thing that I do not understand is that in the Disciples of Christ denomination, one our main tenets is the freedom of belief and the priesthood of all believers.  Under the notion of the freedom of belief, there are not hard and fast interpretations of the Bible broad casted from on high at some national office.  Each person is supposed to be lead by the Spirit to come up with an interpretation of themselves.  Now this does not mean that they are devoid of conversation with others or that they can not draw upon the knowledge of ministers and leaders, but it does mean that the conversation can not be had.  The Disciples are big proponents of local church authority and autonomy.  It is so the church can find an expression of faith that fits the congregation at hand.  No two Disciples churches look a like and that is a great thing.  The Bible is meant to expressed in a different ways to different people.  Gone are the days of cookie cutter religion and hello a place where questions are welcomed and discussions can be had.

Does this mean you can believe whatever you want?  In a sense yes and no… I mean you believed God was a water buffalo, you have missed the point of the gospel.  But for the most part, theologies are constantly in flux, they are growing and shaping over a course of a life time.  This does not mean that once you chose one particular way of believing or understanding the Bible that you are stuck with it forever.  This is where I believe this congregation might have jumped the gun.  What is wrong with having differing theological opinions   What is wrong with having a good discussion based on and around the notion that in the end we are still welcome and able to come around the Table of Grace under the common bond of Jesus Christ.  I hate to tell this congregation but even though they differ on this issue, there are still people within the remnant that do not see eye to eye on every piece of theology, its quite impossible for that to happen.

I am saddened for my friend and colleague and pray that he will find a church that will accept him and his understanding of the gospel.

 

May it be so.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Election Day Communion

This is a piece I wrote for my church’s newsletter.


As the election season has drawn to a close a winner (hopefully) has been announced and has been given the title President-Elect. This election cycle has been one of the ages. Given our 24 hour news cycle and the rise of social media, one is never more than a click away from the latest gossip, bombshell, poll figures and attack ad. For months we have been bombarded with why this person is a better candidate than this person; it has been down right tiring. Families, friends and even churches have been come divided. What makes it worse is that in the back of our minds we know that that since the 2012 Election Day has past, it means that some are already looking forward to the 2016 election… when will it ever stop?

Some churches have seen how this divisiveness has plagued our faith communities and have taken action. Many churches around the county this Election Day met for Holy Communion. Election Day Communion is based on the notion that despite our political differences we as Christians can come together around the Lord’s Table together. For we know at the Lord’s Table we are met with Christ and invited by him; it doesn’t matter if you believe Governor Romney is a good candidate for President or if President Obama should be re-elected or maybe you believed that someone else was better suited for the office of the President. When we are at the Table of the Lord, we are all followers of Christ, we are all trying to find our way in this world, and we are all trying to live our life according to our understanding of the scriptures. The communion table is the center of our worship and it is something that calls us to remember that we all in this together and that Christ is bigger than our political differences. The table reminds us that we are all children of God, all welcomed just as we are.

Let us remember as we move past Election Day, even if the candidate we supported lost the following from the Book of Ephesians

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Let it be so.

And You Wonder Why People Arent Christians: Part IX

As the election looms in the distance, the internet is never too far away to provide us with reasons why people do not want to be a Christian.  Elections have the power to bring out in people their “true colors” but for Dr. Gary Cass he didn’t need the election, he just needed a microphone and an audience.

Cass is the CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) based in Vista, CA.

The Mission of the CADC is as follows:

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) Education Corporation whose purpose it is to become the first-in-mind champion of Christian religious liberty, domestically and internationally, and a national clearing house and first line of response to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination.

The CADC will work constructively to advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God.

The CADC will respond in the media to attacks by any individual person or groups of persons, institutions, or nations that defame and /or discriminate against Christ, Christianity, the Holy Bible, Christian churches and institutions, Christian individuals, and Christian leaders.

In cooperation with friendly Christian grassroots organizations, in secular and Christian media outlets, the CADC will create a “rapid response” team and public relations campaigns to answer the egregious injustice and double standards used against Christians. The CADC will build its own grassroots network.

The CADC will develop strong partnerships with friendly Christian Legal ministries for the purpose of seeking and/or providing legal services on behalf of its constituents. The CADC will collect and forward bona-fide complaints of discrimination and bigotry aimed at Christians which warrant legal action up to and including litigation.

In a nut shell, the CADC promotes under the guise of freedom of religion, their brand of Christianity and everyone else, is just plain wrong.  They have the means, the resources and the guts to take on anti-Christian stances around the world.  (I hope I am not their next target.)  For example, on their website they have “Seven Reasons Why Barack Obama Is Not A Christian.”  Their seven points range from being pro-homosexual rights to he believes their are many paths to Heaven.  So if you believe one or all seven of these points, then you are in the same class as the President as someone who the CADC believes have wandered from the faith.

The leader of the CADC, this beacon of Christian truth and light and acceptance, recently told a captive audience that to be a true Christian means owning a fire arm… that’s right… to be the arbiter of love and justice means carrying a loaded Smith and Wesson emblazon with John 3:16 on the handle I am sure.  You can watch the video below or read the article here.

The CADC on many levels is troubling.  Sure I admire his gusto to be faithful to the commands to love your neighbor  but gun ownership?  I am fine with people owning guns as long as they are maintained, locked up from children and are registered with the state.  But did Christ really call for gun ownership?  I dont see that anywhere in the Bible.

The CADC once again gives all Christians a bad name; they get the most press and they get the attention.   Christianity is not about gun ownership or pointing out reasons why the President is not a Christian.  No Christianity is more than that… it has to be…

If those at the CADC want to ” advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God,” then we might want to include all views and understandings.  You might actually learn something new… then again maybe not.  But the fact remains that we are all in this together.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Not sure who or what “right wing watch” is I just thank them for finding and posting this video.

If You Are Undecided: 1.6 Million Pledge to Write In Jesus Christ for President

No I am not kidding…

According to votingforJesus.com 1.6 Million people have pledged to write in “Jesus Christ” as their vote for President of the United States of America tomorrow.  The website goes into great detail about the ills and sins of both President Obama and Governor Romney. They claim that Mormonism is a cult and that the President is a Socialist who has “has proven to be an enemy of God and a true tool of [S]atan!”

Here is a spinet of their stance:

It is time for Christians, true followers of Jesus Christ, to rise up and say NO to [S]atan this November! As I prophetically shared last November, if God allowed the upcoming election for President to be between President Obama and Mitt Romney, it would truly be Satan flipping a two-headed coin with his head on both sides!

Of course the good people at votingforJesus.com have forgotten that Jesus is not or will he ever be a naturally born citizen of the United States, a requirement of the Constitution. Also, why is their understanding of Christ the one we all should model? Jesus is portrayed in four different gospels in a myriad of ways: there is the vengeful Jesus, the grace-filled Jesus, the exclusive theology Jesus, the missional Jesus, the contemplative Jesus and on and on and on… so which one? All? None? Some?

Pinning down Jesus is like nailing Jell-O to the wall, its tough stuff. That is why we are all called to seek out the Jesus of the bible understanding that we might all come away a bit differently.  I understand people’s frustration about the election process.  And I believe that people’s faith should inform their decision making, but not in broad brush strokes.

So tomorrow, you can with the other 1.6 Million, write in Jesus Christ or someone else… its up to you and you alone.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Christmas in October?

The Mayor of Houston has been receiving some “constructive criticism” regarding a tweet that she posted a few days ago. About 10 days or so before HALLOWEEN, I began to see some shops and stores put up their Christmas decorations. See the tweet below.

Stores here in Houston have stated that they have to do whatever is necessary to make sure they make their Christmas profits. That’s right… Christmas profits. I am all for businesses doing well so they can make a living, that is the American dream. But I am not for making a religious holiday into an opportunity to overspend.  It is much more than about gifts and presents and overeating, it is a remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Personally I have no problems with her comments; having Christmas decorations up two months prior to the event is ridiculous.  These decorations were up before Halloween and Thanksgiving and so called “Black Friday.”  At this rate we should keep Christmas decorations up all year.

Here’s to Annise Parker and I hope you are looking forward to Thanksgiving, the forgotten holiday.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan